Bicycle Theology: Religion Collision

Yesterday morning, shortly after sunrise, a friend and I were riding our bikes in downtown Natchez with minimal traffic on the streets. As we approached one particular intersection, we had the green light. A car approached from the other direction, and as we came to the intersection, I was suddenly aware that the car's speed was not decreasing. I yelled at my friend to watch out as I gripped my brake handles. The car came to a sudden halt, and we rode on by. As we passed through the intersection, I saw that the car's driver was one of my colleagues and friends, the pastor of a church here in town. I saw him again today in a social setting and made a joke about the pastors from two different denominations almost colliding with each other. We began discussing who had the right of way. I told him that he had almost run a red light. He said that I was riding down the middle of the road. I defended my actions. He defended his. I told him to watch out for me next time. He told me to watch out for him. A person who was listening to our conversation said, "Religions sure are good at colliding with each other."

Although my friend and I laughed at the whole incident and moved along with our days, I can't help but think about what the third person said. Our different denominations and traditions in the church often do "collide" with each other. We often get in the mindset that our particular way of doing this is the "right of way." We tell others the way that we see things, and we expect them to agree with us. My colleague and I witnessed the same event but held very different viewpoints of what had happened. There might not have been a collision on the road, but our accounts definitely collided.

The same thing happens in our communities of faith. One group will insist that their belief is the one and only way. Another group disagrees and says that theirs is the only way. The truth is that we all have some truth in what we say. But we all need to "put the brakes" on our insistences sometimes and listen to what the other person or group has to say. If we don't, we open ourselves to the collision of an argument. Christ desires for us to work together, not to drive each other away.

I'm happy to say that this colleague and I have worked together on many issues in the community, and we have found each other to be very open-minded conversationalists and workers in God's kingdom. I hope for that kind of unity for all of us. Today, let us all take time to put the brakes on our own viewpoints and listen to that of another. Who knows what we'll learn --and what collisions we'll avoid when we open our minds and learn to laugh with one another.

grace, peace, love, and all good stuff--
Pastor Darian